Trail Marker Trees

Central Michigan Trail Tree Protected White Oak. Click image to view photo gallery.Before there were road signs, there were trail marker trees. A local author joins us on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm to discuss his 28-year study and new book: Native American Trail Marker Trees: Marking Paths through the Wilderness.

Trail Marker Trees were an ancient form of land and water navigation that were used by many, if not all, of the Native American tribes and later by fur traders and early pioneers. Examples of these trees have been found all across the United States. Researcher Dennis Downes was introduced to the Trail Marker Trees as a young boy, and has spent nearly 30 years locating, documenting, and educating others about these historical icons.

The following excerpt is from Chapter 1 of Downes' book, "Defining the Trail Marker Trees and their Importance":

Before paved roads, street signs, railroads, and road maps, even our noted heroes of exploration and Native Americans have admitted to being lost. Without a system to help travelers find their way, navigating through the Americas years ago could prove very difficult. The Native Americans created a navigational system of their own to aid them in their travels. The Trail Marker Trees, as well as Marker Trees in general, were part of an extensive land and water navigation system in our country that already was in place long before the arrival of the first European settlers.

Visit the photo gallery and links below for more information on Native American Trail Marker Trees.